Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) is a condition characterized by a marked regression in multiple areas of functioning following a period of at least two years of relatively normal development.
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What is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder?
Childhood disintegrative disorder, or CDD, is a rare condition characterized by a loss of previously acquired skills in social, communication, and motor areas.
The disorder typically becomes evident after a period of normal development, typically between the ages of 2 and 10 years. The skills that are lost include abilities in using and understanding language, relating to others socially, and adapting to changes in routines or the environment.
CDD is considered a form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is sometimes referred to as Heller’s syndrome or disintegrative psychosis.
Causes of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
The cause of childhood disintegrative disorder is unknown. However, researchers believe that the disorder may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Symptoms of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
Symptoms of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder generally appear after a period of apparently normal development. The average age of onset is between 3 and 4 years old, but onset can occur as early as 18 months or as late as 10 years old. The disorder is rare, with an estimated prevalence of 1 in every 1 million children.
There are three main categories of symptoms:
1. Regression of skills: Children with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder lose skills that they had previously acquired, such as toilet training, the ability to speak in sentences, or motor skills such as riding a bike.
2. Social withdrawal: Children with the disorder become withdrawn and lose interest in social interactions and activities that they used to enjoy.
3. Loss of interest in the environment: Children with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder become less responsive to their environment and may seem “in a world of their own.”
Diagnosing Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
The diagnosis of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) is made when a child regresses in multiple areas of development after having been developmentally normal for at least two years. The child must also have below average cognitive skills and have compromised social skills and communication abilities. In order to be diagnosed with CDD, the child’s symptoms cannot be better explained by another medical or mental health condition.
There is no one specific test that can diagnose CDD. Instead, the diagnosis is made based on a comprehensive evaluation that includes a review of the child’s medical history, a physical examination, and psychological testing. The child’s parents or caregivers will also be asked to provide information about the child’s development and behavior.
While there is no cure for CDD, early diagnosis and treatment can help children with the disorder improve their function and quality of life.
Treating Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
There is no known cure for childhood disintegrative disorder, but early diagnosis and intervention can improve the long-term outlook. A multi-disciplinary team approach involving specialists in education, behavior, and mental health can help children and families deal with the unique challenges posed by the condition.
Behavioral therapy may be helpful in managing disruptive behaviors associated with childhood disintegrative disorder. This type of therapy can teach children new ways to cope with their emotions and behavior. In some cases, medication may be necessary to control severe behaviors or relieve anxiety or depression.
parents play a crucial role in the treatment of childhood disintegrative disorder. They can provide support and understanding, advocate for their child’s needs, and work closely with the child’s treatment team.
Prognosis for Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
There is currently no known cure for childhood disintegrative disorder, however, early diagnosis and intervention can improve the prognosis. Some children with CDD will make significant strides in their development, while others may continue to struggle with developmental delays and social/behavioral issues.
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.